Latest version of Brasher's lightweight Supalite has been subtly tweaked to lose weight and improve performance.
Newly arrived on the fast-moving, lightweight bandwagon is Brasher's latest lightweight walking boot, the Supalite II GTX Tech Boot dubbed as 'the lightest and most comfortable leather walking boot we know' and a subtle evolution of the Supalite II GTX, which was, itself, an upgrade on the original Supalite.
If you can remember that far back, the first Supalite was a ground-breaking lightweight leather boot that, at the time, was just about the lightest thing out there thanks to carefully honed leather uppers and a new lightweight sole unit. However, it did look a bit like a duck's foot, making it a bit of an acquired taste.
Fast forward a few years to 2010 and Brasher created the Supalite II GTX, which looked a bit more, well, normal and was an evolution of the original. And now there's the new Supalite II GTX version, which rolled up just the other day.
Lighter And Softer
The first thing we noticed, is that it did feel slightly lighter than the last Supalite we tested, and we weren't wrong. The new boot weighed in at 553g on our digital scale compared to 609g for the last version, that's a useful 100g or so on a pair of boots and something we could feel.
Visually the boot is similar to the previous version, but look harder and you can spot some small changes: the memory foam ankle cuff is slightly deeper and the ankle itself is lower, the leather lining inside uses different stitch-lines, but the real changes are in construction and materials.
First, while the Supalite sole unit looks pretty much identical, it's a revised version which is reckoned to give better grip, wear and clearing, while hidden away inside is a revised board which gives, says Brasher, a more natural flex for better underoot feel.
Second, and most importantly, the new version of the boot uses a carefully chosen, UK-produced Pittards full-grain leather upper, which is softer and smoother than before, but without any reduction in durability.
Otherwise the basics are the same: Gore-Tex liner for waterproofing, memory foam padding at the ankle and a luxurious soft leather lining.
We're big fans of lightweight footwear. You feel nimbler and more precise plus over the course of a long day's walking, you're simply using that little bit less energy and we've always liked the Supalite for precisely those reasons plus the traditional strengths of leather.
A quick trial wander around in the new version suggests that the changes are subtle. The boots still feel light, comfortable and with a nice rolling motion to them. Shape is a UK-friendly medium broad with plenty of room both in the forefoot and at the heel and there's a softness to the uppers that's light years away from traditional leather boots and helped by the memory foam internal padding.
We like the slightly lower ankle cuff on the new boots and the softer flex of the sole unit does make them a little more natural underfoot, though the earlier version is hardly stiff. We'd also, based on the previous version expect decent all-round grip from the sole, with decent bite on softer ground.
Some people will see these as a low-level boot, but there's no reason why you can't wear them in the mountains too as long as you're precise with your footwork and are prepared to live with a bit of scuffage on the uppers.
Overall, first impressions are that this a nice evolution of the boot. You're getting the traditional strengths of leather uppers and a bit of ankle protection, but with an impressively low weight and a softness, comfort and flex that reminds us of lightweight, fabric-uppered mids but without any slop. On top of that, the restrained styling means that you don't look like you've just wondered out of a mid-90s disco.
We can't really comment on durability at this stage, except to say that while lightweight footwear will never be quite as long lived as heavy, old, traditional walking boots, Pittards has a proven record of producing excellent, tough but light leather.
The new Brasher Supalite II GTX Tech Boot is available now and retails for £145.
More info at www.brasher.co.uk.